By Taroue Brooks
What inspired you to become an author?
I’ve never thought I would write in a capacity to be considered an author. Even now, I am truly honored to be referred to as such. I recall in 2008-2009, I was working at CoCo Sala and that was when I truly started to fall in love with the hospitality industry. I’m quite sure that’s due-in-part to my mentor and long time friend Souheil Moussadik, then General Manger and restaurateur. Even then, I started keeping a journal of the craziest staff excuses (for being late to work), cocktails I would create, stories from hanging out with the staff (and other folks in the industry), as well as tips and tricks for my fellow industry professionals. I was often told that I should publish certain things I kept in my journals over the year and I was always hesitant. Now my inspiration is my ability and need to entertain guests, family and friends even if it’s from a distance.
What kind of training and experience do you have in being a bartender/mixologist?
I have actually never had any formal or “traditional” training when it comes to bartending. I’ve always been creative in most “artsy” regards and I look at bartending and mixology as an expressive and underestimated art. I would say my most inspiring moments throughout the years were watching the many, incredible chefs I used to work with strive to create perfect plates. One skill I’ve developed over the years from working with those chefs and later developing on my own, was the ability to taste the cocktail in my mind before I even start mixing the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. In my process, this is the first and most inspirational process of creating memorable cocktails. Watching that level of creativity and unwavering ability to “make-it-work,” continue to inspire me to push the envelope with my continuous development of complex cocktails with unconventional ingredients.
What can people expect from your book?
I feel most people will be able to enjoy a very relaxed structure with an approachable easy-going format in this cocktail book. There’s no pushy personal philosophy I’m trying to invoke, as I truly believe that mixology and making cocktails should always be fun. I encourage the readers to take these recipes and take the liberty to expand on them, while tailoring them to their own and guest’s personal preferences. In addition to giving the readers an opportunity to enjoy some outstanding cocktails, it is my hope that they will be inspired to play around with new spirits, syrups and ingredients while discovering and creating even more great cocktails.
What inspired some of your cocktails?
Traveling and the ability to infuse travel inspire throughout the entire collection, featured in the Atlas Menus. With that, I really dove into the research of each region in tandem with personal experiences with the attempt to transport the drinker/reader to a new location of the world and sometimes discover a new time period.
What was your process in naming your signature cocktails?
Naming the cocktails dives into the origin of the cocktails most of the time, in correlation with the story the cocktail is telling. With that being said, those cocktail names; as they’re featured in the book, is similar to Jeopardy. The cocktail is the category or question and the detail description of the cocktail is the Answer.
Share one of your most challenging aspects of being an entrepreneur.
One of the most challenging aspects of being an entrepreneur is maintaining the integrity of an original idea. Everyone has heard the saying “You can’t wait for the perfect time -it’ll never come -you just do it”. Well that saying is often just referring to the “timing” not being right, which is true however there are many factors contributing to “time”. When working with an original concept or idea, you try hard to keep it as pure as you can while trying to present it to the world-but the difficulty of being somewhat influenced by ideas of those who are helping you execute this bring about the biggest challenge of originality. Whether it’s a monetary or professional influence, the most important factor is that popularity influences distribution and success. Before you know it, everyone who has been helping your idea get out is influencing and you sometimes no longer recognize the original idea. With all that said, the window of effectiveness of your idea has become void or is now irrelevant. What has brought me success throughout my tenure is if you treat the idea like a baby and understand that there will be influences but if you allow your child to play, crawl, walk and grow in the real world, it ultimately has no choice but to grow and evolve before people’s eyes versus keeping it sheltered-it will never be ready.
Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?
In the next five years I pray to be running and operating my own coffee shop/ cocktail bar. I’ve been working on several different concepts for the past decade and I can picture this venue having great success in my mind. So now for me, it’s a matter of teaming up with like-minded individuals, the right investors and finding the right location. However with that said, in one-way or another, I’ll be behind a bar hopefully creating and inspiring my coworkers and guests alike.
Where can people purchase your book?
Anyone interested in purchasing the eBook can email for details on how to order at Hamid.Hakim2@gmail.com. Hardback copies are coming soon.
Spanning multiple cities; Washington, DC, New York, Atlanta and Chicago, Hakim’s experience includes working with over a dozen world-class restaurants, night clubs and hotels. With a passion for creating memorable experiences for guests and a pulse on the ever-changing trends of the city, Hakim has created a reputation for elegance in entertainment, hospitality and design.
An eye for design is often a gift, and Hakim pairs that with education in interior design from the Art Institute of Washington. His energy and dedication to creating unique visions is realized not only in his design work, but extends to his hospitality capabilities. From creating worldly menus, to writing articles about which drink to serve to make a party truly unique, Hakim excels at the unexpected and is building his brand year over year.